Goodbye Dragon Inn (rewatch)
Posted by martinteller on April 14, 2013
I thought it might be a mistake to watch this with As I Was Moving Ahead… still fresh in my mind. Coming off the high of Mekas’s vibrant, fast-cutting, highly personal ode to love and togetherness, wouldn’t it just be a crushing downer to sit through one of Tsai’s glacially-paced studies of isolation and loneliness? But it turned out to be an ideal counterpoint, and I think I appreciated this one a little more than I ever have. The funny moments were laugh-out-loud funny, and the sad moments struck deeper, like Shiang-chyi Chen’s silent yearning for the projectionist. There is also a startling scene where Chen gazes at the cinema screen, and amidst all these incredibly long takes we suddenly get a series of rapid cuts between Chen’s face and the heroine in Dragon Inn (the movie that is playing in the theater). Perhaps a longing to be the character she sees, powerful and not burdened with a club foot… or perhaps Tsai is equating the two. Our heroine is no less heroic than the one in this epic martial arts movie.
So I’ve warmed up to Goodbye Dragon Inn a bit more, but I still rank it among my least favorite Tsais. Given how much I love the director, that’s not saying much. But the extremity of his minimalism is pushed a little too far here. As fascinating as his long, long takes can be, there isn’t quite enough weight to them here. It says less about human beings than his other films. But I certainly didn’t mind watching it this time. It really requires the right mood. Rating: Very Good (83)